The 7 Essential Checks for Healthy Google Ads / Microsoft Ads Accounts

Blackboard checklist chalk

by Shaun Bond & Jari van Gaal

April 29, 2020

How to ensure the essential stuff gets done

As a PPC campaign manager you are probably juggling multiple Google Ads or Microsoft Ads (Bing) accounts, no matter if you’re agency or client side. So, how do you make sure that your accounts are healthy and running as expected, even when you’re not able to check the metrics of every account every day (eg. you’re off sick, on holidays, busy with a big account build/project/client meeting etc)?

Obviously, here at PPC Samurai we’re big fans of getting great tooling to do it for you *cough.. ours..cough*! Of course, you can write scripts for many of these if you’re a coder but we’ll also give you some PPC Samurai workflow inspiration to duplicate-and-innovate in your own accounts.

First things first though…What should you be looking for?

1. Impression Drop Alert

Have you ever had that awkward conversation with your client (or your boss) as you try to explain why you didn’t notice campaigns had stopped running? I had that conversation a few times in my early PPC career and it never got easier. Use an Impression Drop Alert at account or campaign level (or, preferably, both) to avoid this awkward ‘chat’ in future. 

Noticing that a campaign stopped generating impressions is very important, but discovering a falling trend of overall account impressions can also be helpful. These kinds of alerts can be set in many different ways. 

  • You can simply fire an alert when impressions were 0 yesterday (although, be careful of doing that if you schedule ads to stop running over weekends or holidays) or, probably more efficiently: 
  • You can compare impressions on a particular day with the same day in the week prior and do that as a rolling daily test. Then define how and when you’ll be alerted – usually a hard number drop or percentage impression decrease. 

Here is an example of the kind of workflow that would achieve this (all automatically!).

It’s pretty simple logic, and follows these steps:

  1. Did the account have impressions on the same day last week (usually comparing yesterday to the same day on the week prior).
  2. If the answer is yes, it’s then reasonable to assume that we should have seen impressions yesterday.
  3. If, however, we had no impressions yesterday, then we ask the workflow to ‘let me know’ (in this case via an email plus an in-app alert).
How to read the flowcharts:
  • Red boxes are Yes/No questions
  • Blue boxes are actions
  • Green lines represent Yes pathways
  • Red lines represent No pathways

2. Shopping – Number Of Products Ready To Serve Have Dropped

Using shopping campaigns? Then this alert is for you! Since product feeds in merchant centers are often hosted on a website or sent through via an API, there can be unseen errors in the feed that cause products to be disapproved or removed from your campaigns. 

You probably don’t look into your client merchant center daily and as a result might miss that the feed is broken or products are disapproved. We’d suggest using Merchant Center Alerts that fire an email when products are disapproved or the number of products in the shopping feed decreases by a certain number or by a certain percentage.

At PPC Samurai we‘ve built a global template which follows these steps (all automatically!):

  1. Is the account connected to a feed that has at least 5 products (regardless of approval status)? Why 5? This minimum number of products relates to the next step:
  2. If yes, trigger the alarm (alert and email) IF the number of products ready to serve has dropped by 20% or greater. 
  3. If there are less than 5 products in the feed, trigger the alarm if the products ready to serve have dropped by 1 product or more.

3. Spike In Impressions For Search Queries You Have Not Seen Before

Sometimes your account will start to trigger search queries unexpectedly as a result of news events or trending social media topics. Often, these queries can be completely unrelated to your service or product! Imagine you are selling corona beer online in these Covid times, or were advertising on Totti barbecues when Francesco Totti stopped playing football. 

The number of impressions for ‘related’ terms shoots through the roof and you find yourself spending lots of money on traffic that is highly unlikely to convert. You’ll always wish you caught that spike in impressions earlier! 

You can prevent this by setting an alert that looks for queries which do not already exist as a live keyword, have high impression volume and have just started triggering in your account. As an added bonus, the workflow below asks if you would like to add the query as a new keyword (at which point you can change the match type, destination adgroup, or even add the query, or part of the query, as a negative in the match type of your choice!)

This is the workflow logic: 

1.   Does the query have >=100 impressions over the last 30 days?
2.   If yes, is the query the same as a live keyword (any match type) in your account?
3.   If no, is this a new search query that has only started to generate impressions in the last 30 days?
4.   If yes, it means that the query is high volume, new to the account and not already a keyword. Subsequently, the query is flagged as a prospective new keyword, that you can add as a keyword or add as a negative in whatever match type and location you prefer.

4. Disapproved Ads & 404 Error Alerts

Disapproved ads within campaigns are our number one management frustration. It could be due to a policy change or new ads that don’t meet the right criteria or some mystery reason you’re yet to address via an hour on the phone with support! Either way, you don’t want disapproved ads to impact your campaign performance and you don’t want your client seeing it before you do.  

404 error alerts on ads and sitelinks are less commonly run, but can also have a major account impact. If you’re not a PPC Samurai user, we recommend running scripts that look for these. 

Within PPC Samurai we automatically scan every live ad and landing page daily, and report on any disapproved ads and 404 errors we find (on both ads and sitelinks).  These are rolled into the Insights Dashboard as part of the automatic checks/balances and are available for free on the Standard Plan (along with a bunch of other automatic health checks!).  Each alert can be expanded to show the underlying details on exactly what the issue is and where we found it.

5. Display Placement Performance

When you use display campaigns based on keywords or other targeting methods, your ads get shown all over the place. Manually going through all these websites to check the placements are appropriate or performing well enough takes a heaps of time, so…. we automate it! 

You can check display placements for URLs containing certain words or second/top level domains or check placements against your targets (CPA / ROAS) and make action choices based on those checks. (eg. you might want to exclude certain websites/second level domains based on appropriateness for your brand or their performance). 

If you need help to design a workflow that checks and changes display placements in an appropriate way for your clients, feel free to contact one of our automation specialists! There are lots you could run, however an example might be:

This workflow automatically excludes placements that are:

  1. High impressions with low CTR
  2. Suspiciously high conversion rate (eg 3 or more conversions with 100% Conv Rate)
  3. Suspiciously high CTR or CPC

We have set this up so that any exclusions are approved by you rather than being pushed into your account automatically, but that can be changed if you would prefer to push the exclusions automatically.

6. Best Performing Keywords Losing Impression Share

This one is really important; you’ll never want to miss potential conversions on your best performing keywords! Perhaps these keywords have bids that are below the first page bids, or these keywords are losing impression share due to budget. This can happen when you’ve changed bids across the account (automatically or manually), when a new competitor is bidding on your keywords, driving the keyword bid higher or when the campaign has run out of budget. 

We created an alert that lets you know whenever high performing keywords (based on your CPA or ROAS target – this example is for CPA) are losing impression share due to bids or budget being too low.

More advanced: You can even add steps that automatically adjust the bids or budgets for these keywords! Our automation specialists are always happy to help you with this.

7. Negative Keywords Blocking Conversions

You can also miss conversions because a negative keyword has been added at some point without fully checking if search queries that contain that word/s have converted in the past.  

Pro Tip: This is one of the first things we check when auditing an account, as it’s really common to find them!

If you’re a coder you can write a script to replicate this, or you can use PPC Samurai to let you know if any of these blocked, converting queries exist. You can even modify this workflow to include a Google Sheet that contains a list of queries that you are happy to keep as blocked (some campaign structures actually need this to happen), so you don’t keep getting notified of the same blockages month after month.

Now you can start thinking more about your clients then your daily tasks!

These are seven of the regular health checks for Google and Microsoft advertising accounts I consider essential. Of course, the variety of processes you can build in PPC Samurai are unlimited so consider what YOU check for in accounts and think about how you can design a workflow that’ll automate those checks for you. 

And THEN think about what you’ll do with all this time you’ll have on your hands :). You can spend more time with clients, be creative with your strategies or work with more businesses. With quality automations giving you back time, you have the choice. 

In the coming weeks we’ll be coming out with more advanced checks and processes you can use to help you manage your accounts. 

If you have any questions though about how to implement this, of course our automation team is happy to help 🙂

Keen to know more about advertising automation and what PPC Samurai can do for you? AWESOME! Schedule a free demo with one of our specialists. We’d love to know more about you and what we can do to help you.

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